Universal Heartthrob: Kevin Goggins

If you’ve spent much time on campus, especially in the wee hours of the morning on a Saturday, you probably know Security Night Shift Supervisor Kevin Goggins — more often known simply as Kevin. Goggins joined the Lawrence University Campus Safety team in August of 2012 — a fact that many who work with Kevin couldn’t seem to pinpoint. Many people, instead, said he’s been here forever; after all, he trained almost everyone on the team, according to Senior Lead Campus Safety Officer Brianna Bernard. This forever is coming to a close, though, as Kevin plans to retire at the end of this academic year after nearly nine years at Lawrence. 

Kevin has been featured numerous times by writers of The Lawrentian, often as one of the “hidden figures” of Lawrence. Rather than rehash his past life as an officer and eventual captain with the Department of Corrections, it seems more fitting to share some anecdotes to celebrate his retirement, just like Kevin would on any other night. 

Bernard, who has been working with Kevin for seven years now, shared the fun fact that Kevin has won two trophies for being the “Universal Heartthrob” — one from his time working in the prison and one from Lawrence University Campus Safety. Clearly, he has a reputation that follows him.

These are not the only awards that Kevin has won either. He is a two-time recipient — and many-time nominee — of the Babcock Award, which is presented annually to a member of the Lawrence community who “through involvement and interaction with students has made a positive impact on the campus community.” He has also won the President’s Award of Excellence, and his plus-one for the celebratory dinner for this award was his mother, one of his greatest supporters.

Campus Safety Officer Erik Justen who has worked with Kevin for the past two years shared a story that highlights Kevin’s presence on campus well. As many know, Lawrentians have a traditional Senior Streak in which the senior class runs out of Memorial Hall from the Viking Room and proceeds to streak across campus. This event is one that may make some officers nervous given the generally over-intoxicated, naked students. Kevin, though, approaches the situation as he does every other — ensuring that students are safe while they have their fun.

Kevin’s reputation did not desert him during Senior Streak 2020 when the senior class began chanting his name. While the source of the chant is unknown, it is still rather impressive how many students chanted his name during that cold, dark night. Remembering it, Justen could only shake his head and laugh. 

According to Justen, this sort of enthusiastic response really isn’t uncommon, for 90 percent of students at parties shout his name when he walks in. Justen continued, describing Kevin as the “lovable Campus Safety mascot.” Considering the cookies that Kevin bakes for students, faculty, staff, etc. and how often he sings while on the job, the mascot role doesn’t seem too far from reality. 

Dean of Students Curt Lauderdale ’01 also brought up a moment from last March in which the senior class was attempting to cram in every tradition before being sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Lauderdale, Kevin was an incredible help in getting seniors into the cupula to sign their names. This was not necessarily an expectation of Goggins, but he made it a priority. 

While Lauderdale has never had one of Kevin’s cookies, he does receive pretzels every year on his birthday in reference to an episode of “Seinfeld,” a show that Kevin knows he enjoys. This is just one example of many in which Kevin has displayed his consistent care for people, genuinely getting to know them as he interacts with them. Lauderdale explained that Kevin is someone who actually wants to know how you’re doing when he asks, regardless of who you are. 

Lauderdale described Kevin as someone who is an excellent example of caring for people and place and someone who has a good sense of perspective in his ability to resolve situations compassionately and efficiently. Justen also described Kevin’s rapport with people as a rare quality, for he has never met someone who has had such a way with people. Bernard even referred to him as an “enigma” in his personality and interactions. I can certainly attest to his ways, for I’ve witnessed him interact with people on many occasions.  

As a Community Advisor in Sage Hall last year, I was known as the “shit magnet” due to the many incident reports I filed and the circumstances I found myself in. Because of this, I quickly became acquainted with the officers of Campus Safety, and eventually my name became programmed into the department phone. With this sort of reputation and relationship, one might expect that I knew Kevin Goggins quite well. Contrary to assumption, I didn’t actually meet the beloved Kevin until nearly halfway through the year.  

When I first met Kevin, I introduced myself and let him know that I had never actually met him before. Little did I know, but that was the greatest insult known to man — or at least Goggins — because he apparently sulked about it for the rest of the night. As a man known for being known, I seemingly really put a dent in his confidence.  

Despite this less than marvelous introduction, Kevin and I quickly became friends, and I remember fondly the nights he would join me at the duty desk, shouldering the important task of eating candy with me and chatting about the world. Through these conversations, I learned about his four sons, three of them being triplets, and his dog Ryder. More than that, though, I quickly learned how much Kevin cares. 

Every time I talk to Kevin, he tells me how wonderful Lawrence students are and how much he loves talking with us. Whether we’re fully sober or maybe a bit impaired, Kevin truly sees some amazing potential in each of us. Especially as he approaches retirement, Kevin has become even more generous with his wisdom but also his wishes for students’ futures.

Bernard summed up Kevin’s immense impact on our community well when she said, “I want to make sure [Kevin] knows he has accomplished what so few can by being what I would call a life changer, a mentor and, most importantly, a hero.”

To Kevin, then, I wish you a restful retirement if you allow it. If you aren’t keen on slowing down, then I hope you keep up with your antics and keep sharing your light with those around you. It has truly been a pleasure and an honor to get to know you, and you will be deeply missed by all those who have had the pleasure of knowing you at Lawrence, which seems like damn near everyone.